AFRICANGLOBE – After four years of research, Uganda scientists have developed an anti-malarial beverage — Artavol —from avocado seed, Artemisia annua plant and lemon grass.
The beverage helps in the prevention of malaria, frequent fevers, worm infestation, and provides the body with antioxidants through the removal of the oxygen radical known to cause diseases including cancer.
Artavol or Avocine was developed by a Uganda pharmacist in collaboration with scientists at Natural Chemotherapeutics Research Laboratory and Makerere University. Uganda National Council for Science and Technology provided the research funding.
Artavol is available in pharmacies and supermarkets although the production is still at a small scale at Uganda Industrial Research Institution. Current monthly production stands at only 4,000 one hundred-gramme tins.
“We have not yet started promoting this beverage. We need to first have an organised production unit to scale up production,” said Dr Patrick Ogwang, lead researcher.
Dr. Ogwang said that they have received requests for the beverage from as far as Ghana and Senegal.
In the research conducted by the team, it was fiound that after eight months of taking the beverage, the subjects did not develop any fevers associated with malaria.
Hospital visits for fever related causes fell by 80 per cent. This was not the case with the control subjects who visited hospital more for fever related to malaria.
Although Artavol is made from Artemisia just like Coartem, it cannot be used as a substitute for malaria drugs. This means that if one falls sick while taking Artavol/Avocine, they must seek treatment.
Initially, there were fears that people would develop resistance to Coartem if they consumed the beverage.
“We had to come up with a method of stopping resistance. We removed the part that is used for treatment component in Coartem. We then checked if the same impact would show. We found that even without that part, it would still control malaria infection. Our research tested for prevention and not for treatment,” said Dr Ogwang.
Similar research in Ivory Coast proved that use of zinc, vitamins and other micronutrients could prevent malaria infections.
Uganda’s annti-malarial beverage has already been registered with the National Drug Authority while the scientists have made applications for patent at the African Regional Intellectual Organisation in Zimbabwe.